Not soon forgotten: Howard Jones
Soon after he died, members of the Basehor Lions Club added the name Howard Jones to a tribute wall at Basehor City Park. The wall's purpose, members say, is so that fallen colleagues may never be forgotten and that everyone upon passing will have a permanent place in the city's history.
The legacy of Howard Jones, a man who touched the lives of many with his community dedication and adventurous spirit, has as permanent a place with many Basehor residents today as does the name etched into the wall. And, like the engraving, it's doubtful either will fade away anytime soon.
"We absolutely loved the man," said Danny Dearinger, a neighbor and close friend. "He was family.
"He was the most dedicated person you could ever, ever want to meet. He was dedicated. He'd help anyone with anything if they'd asked."
Jones, a Basehor resident with close ties to Bonner Springs and Linwood, lost a bout with cancer and died June 26, just three days shy of his 65th birthday. He worked for 31 years as a horticulturist and greenhouse manager for Alex Masson, Inc. in Linwood and also at Moon Marble in Bonner Springs.
While he assumed those roles during business hours, in his free time Jones served as a member of several community-oriented organizations in Basehor. He was a past president, and "glue that held together," as Dearinger said, the Lion's Club. He was also a member of the former Community Education group, a member of the first-ever Baseor Community Library Board of Trustees and a staunch supporter of the Basehor Historical Society.
On top of that, he also gave horticulture presentations to youth and civic clubs and kind advice on the best way to grow flowers to neighbors.
"He just did a lot of things behind the scenes that no one ever knew about," said Lynne Sebree, Basehor. "He was kind of under the radar a lot of the time. He was usually the guy working behind the scenes."
Friends say although helping others and contributing to community proved to be Jones' passion, scouring the area flea markets for hidden treasures was his favorite hobby. They said Jones, an avid collector of antiques and assorted memorabilia, had a knack for finding the treasure buried in the avalanche of junk.
"You couldn't hardly pass (a sale) without him saying, 'Oh, we need to hit that one,'" Dearinger said.
"He bought what I think is very high quality stuff," Sebree said.
Almost every kind of rarity, from an antique clothes washer to Indian Territory maps to collector tins, can be found at the Jones home. Like his community service, Jones took quite seriously the acquisition of items in which he found beauty and value.
"It's dispersed all through the house," Sebree said. "There are no vacant spots. He didn't need a whole lot of wallpaper because he had them all covered.
"Nobody really knows until they see it . . ."
Fortunately for area residents, they'll get their chance in October. Beginning at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22 and running until 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, the Jones home located at 20102 171st St. in Basehor, will be the site of an estate auction. Proceeds from the sale will go to Jones' heirs.
Color photos of some of the items available during the auction, and a copy of the auction handbill, can be found at www.kansasauctions.net/sebree.
While the Jones' collection will be dispersed throughout the area after the auction, his memory lives on. Today, Dearinger recalls proudly many fond memories of Jones. Although a brilliant horticulturist, Jones was no good on the open water, Dearinger said with a chuckle.
"He wasn't a very good fisherman but he went with us," he said. "My daughter, Megan, and him would have a fishing contest every year to see who could catch the smallest fish.
"We have a photo of him with one that looks like a minnow. He laughed about it and said it takes a great talent to catch a small one."
Living near Jones not only offered great friendship, Dearinger said, but also asthetically appealing rewards. At Christmas time, Jones would bring poinsettias around the neighborhood. At Easter, those living nearby would receive lilies.
Although Jones was always willing to lend a helping hand, he was oftentimes unlikely to accept one. After he was diagnosed with cancer, Jones rarely asked anyone outside his close circle of friends for help. The same held true after the disease moved from his lungs to his spine and eventually into his brain.
"He was always ready to help, but he never wanted anyway to go to any bother over him," Sebree said.
A final testament to Jones was seen during his funeral in Bonner Springs. More than 400 people came to pay their last respects.
Dearringer echoed the sentiments of many when he said:
"Words don't do him justice. He kept (people) going and he gave 100 percent on just about anything he ever did."